Come Feb. 1, Alaska Airlines passengers who need a moment of prayer will have to bring their own materials. The airline announced Wednesday (Jan. 25) that they will stop serving a side of Psalms via a trio of prayer cards with their first-class meal trays.
“This difficult decision was not made lightly. We believe it’s the right thing to do in order to respect the diverse religious beliefs and cultural attitudes of all our customers and employees,” reads an email sent to customers from Alaska Air Group Chairman and CEO Bill Ayer and Alaska Airlines President Brad Tilden.
“Some of you enjoy the cards and associate them with our service. At the same time, we’ve heard from many of you who believe religion is inappropriate on an airplane.”
The cards have been a part of Alaska Airlines flights since the 1970s (and were a feature that they swiped from Continental). But they have only been a first-class perk since 2006 after meal service was cut for passengers traveling in coach.
Former Alaska governor, Sarah Palin, took to Facebook to express her displeasure with this turn of events.
“It feels so odd that some may be offended by a little card with an encouraging non-denominational verse from the Psalms, but how often do we hear complaints about tawdry ads or billboard images flashing at us everywhere we turn?,” Palin writes, seemingly unaware that being “from the Psalms” actually makes them Judeo-Christian specific. “People of faith and common decency just shrug and move on from the constant assault on their sensibilities; we don’t call for censorship — at least I don’t.
“So, why in this day and age must every reference to faith in God be censored from the public square? Why must a private company buckle under pressure from a handful of people who find a little card saying ‘the Lord is my shepherd’ offensive? I’m sure there are many more people who appreciate the cards, or at least are ambivalent about them.”
The former vice presidential candidate also sent an email to Alaska Airlines, asking for them to reverse their decision:
“It’s come to my attention that the cards may be discontinued due to a few who are offended. I really hope this is just a rumor. Please remain strong and courageous in the face of a cultural trend that wants to wage war on any positive thing that a few may construe as offensive. The Alaska Airlines tradition should be looked upon as an all-American, hopeful, encouraging gesture. Please don’t discontinue the cards.”
Last week, Alaska airlines announced a frequent-flier partnership with the Dubai-based airline Emirates but deny that the discontinuation of the prayer cards is in any way related.
“Religious beliefs are deeply personal and sharing them with others is an individual choice,” say Ayer and Tilden.